Sunday, 2 February 2014

Erica James - Italian sunshine

February might be the shortest month, but it's been pretty wet and miserable so far. Much like December and January. For many of us it's been wet since before Christmas and wellies are essential. Even the daffodils aren't growing very fast at the moment and like Mary Lennox I've been clearing the leaves around them hopefully. Perhaps it's too wet for them or there hasn't been quite enough sunshine yet. I'm lucky not to be affected by flooding, though the ground is absolutely sodden. Two days of light drizzle mean that the garden has a chance to dry out and I can dry laundry.

With all the damp, darkness and rain, it's a time for for novels of wisteria and sunshine. Everything from The Enchanted April to A French Affair. A novel where trying something new is a Good Thing and you find yourself happier than you thought possible. I'm thrilled to have a proof of Erica James's Summer by the Lake and recommend it highly for (preferably) an uninterrupted afternoon with a self-refilling mug of caffeine and some smart chocolates. Given the Italian theme, I suppose it's luck that I found I had some leftover baci from Christmas and those went very nicely with my tea.

I've read most of Erica James's novels in no particular order and think this is the best yet as it combines Oxford with Lake Como. She's done some interesting modern novels mostly set around Cheshire and I liked the two strands of the story of Floriana's contemporary dilemma set against her elderly neighbour's love in Italy in the 1950s. Revealing the two stories and drawing them together was deftly done. Floriana is one of life's gentle drifters. A good friend. A considerate person and one who is easily hurt. Finding new friends in elderly Esme and Adam (Floriana's own age) reshapes her life for the better as does life under the Italian sun. Read and enjoy this - I almost didn't want it to end.

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